Whether it is a natural disaster like hurricane Katrina or an unnatural catastrophe like an upwind industrial chemical explosion, what you do now to protect yourself and your family can make the difference between life and death. After you survive, rebuilding your life and business quickly becomes critical.
Please, do not for one moment think that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is going to be able to get to you in time, unless you have already taken these steps to rescue yourself. Tragically, even 10 days after post-Katrina rescue efforts began, there were still people starving to death in New Orleans.
It can happen anywhere (here), and it is not if, it is when it will happen. No one can predict the future, but you can take measures now so you know that you have done what you can to prepare.
Check out these Catastrophe Survival Tips for You and Your Family" that you can use to buy yourself and your family more time. Time is the second most important factor in surviving a catastrophe. Water is number one, so our first tip is:
1) Without water you lose your ability to make clear decisions within 24 hours. Thirst kills you faster than famine. At Work: Keep a backpack at work with as much bottled water as you can carry. Plus, put in dried fruit, power bars, your daily medications or vitamins and a small first aid kit. Keep a Family Emergency Numbers List inside too. At Home: Put at least enough water in sealed containers so that your family will have one gallon per day for two weeks. I just bought shrink-wrapped cases of quart-sized plastic water bottles and stacked them under the backyard picnic table. Even if some of it is compromised you will still have other bottles intact. Swap water out every six months - put a reminder in your calendar.
2) Create a Catastrophe Kit on your property outside your house and garage (in a back corner of your yard, for instance). It is as easy as getting a plastic 55-gallon trash bin with clips on the lid to hold it shut. Or use a small plastic/metal garden 'shed' in your yard.
3) Clean out your closets and put in layered clothing AND tough shoes for each family member. You need a complete change of dry clothing that you can be warm enough in to sleep while dressed.
4) Clean out the camping gear you are not using: this is the perfect place for it. Tents, Tarps, Ponchos, Sleeping bags or Wool blankets (wool will keep you warmer even when wet), cooking gear, Lighters, Utensils, Can-openers and a pan to boil water.
5) Make a separate sealed container with food in it. Canned goods as complete meals are ideal. Dried foods will use precious water to reconstitute. Instant coffee keeps withdrawal headaches away. If you smoke, put a carton of cigarettes in to prevent withdrawal sickness. Concentrate on meals (e.g. beef stew, spaghetti) and carbohydrate foods like cereal bars and dried fruit leathers for energy.
6) If you eat a protein drink (or power bar) regularly, throw in a big container (or a 12-pack of cans/bars) and enough liquid to mix it up. This is a good concentrated food source.
7) Include another plastic sealed container with all of the basic medicines or vitamins you and your family must have. Some doctors will give you double prescriptions once if you ask. Clean out your bathroom cabinets and make sure to pack first aid remedies like ibuprofen, tylenol, aspirin, bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, etc. You can get cost-effective home emergency kits at Costco.
8) Important: a battery radio for plastic jar emergency broadcasts; ideally a CB radio or Nextel-type network phone; your Family List with names, essential medical and contact information, as well as local emergency numbers. Call friends/family outside your state to leave update info. Local phone access is often turned off or destroyed during emergencies.
9) Maintain a Catastrophe mini-Kit for your car(s). Always have a blanket, food (e.g., power bars) and water in sealed containers. You can buy quality car emergency kits at Costco, too.
Create regular backups of your personal and business computer systems. I use Norton Ghost to image copy my entire drive onto an external hard drive and store it in the trunk of my car parked in my driveway. You probably won't be thinking about your business in the middle of a disaster, but when you survive you will need to rebuild your life and business as soon as possible.
It's more fun hassling re-creating your working drive than it is to go out of business. You can also do regular backups to remote sites on the web. I highly recommend my backup 'guru' Sallie Goetsch's weekly Backup Reminder ezine. For essential backup tips visit the FileSlinger(tm) Backup Blog (fileslinger/blog/)
"May you and yours be safe and well." But, do your family's Catastrophe Kits this weekend anyway, OK? Organizing cannot stop a catastrophe, but after you survive it will help you and your family in recovering quickly.
If you like, sign up for more free tips at Organizer-Extraordinaire by Eve Abbott, the Organizer Extraordinaire